Dr. Mehmet Oz, the liberal celebrity doctor running as a Republican for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, is under fire for his prior support for gun control in a series of columns he now publicly claims he did not write himself.
The columns, which Oz co-authored with the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Michael Roizen, show a years-long advocacy for gun control.
The columns that Oz shared a byline on pushed extreme leftwing views in restricting the Second Amendment. One, in 2017, said it was “Scary!” that as many as 3 million Americans have loaded handguns they carry every day while also promoting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Democrat talking points that “having waiting periods for gun purchases saves about 1,700 lives every year.”
Earlier, in a 2014 column, Oz and Roizen promoted the false equivalency between firearm ownership and smoking, arguing that gun ownership was a threat to someone’s health that doctors need to intervene aggressively to limit.
“Doctors aggressively advise patients not to smoke; and until the government embraces gun-safety measures (polls show that 79 percent of the population favors universal background checks for gun buyers), it’s every doctor’s responsibility to their patients and your responsibility to yourself and your family to reduce gun violence,” Oz and Roizen wrote in July 2014. The headline of that column played right into the left’s framing, saying explicitly: “Is Gun Violence a Public Health Issue?”
Oz and Roizen pushed gun control again in 2018 in a column where they advocated for stricter gun laws for public health reasons, writing that “there are twice as many pediatric firearm deaths in states with the most lenient gun regulations compared with states where gun laws are strictest.” And again in 2019 they ran this as the headline of their column: “Impact of gun violence hits Americans emotionally and financially.” In it, they write “national legislation would be good”—backing Democrat pushes for federal gun control.
That August 2019 Oz and Roizen column also shows the two doctors pushing to “[m]ake gun purchaser licensing universal” and urging their readers to pressure legislators to do so.
Another column in 2013, which has not been previously reported in the context of Oz’s attempt to rebrand himself as a Republican in his bid for Senate, shows him and Roizen pushing—again under the guise of public health—for Americans to have “less access to guns (that aren’t designed for hunting).”
After the columns resurfaced during Oz’s bid for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, where Oz is now claiming to be a conservative despite a lifetime of leftist public positions on literally every major issue from life to transgenderism to immigration to guns, his co-author Roizen wrote a letter to Fox News claiming Oz did not personally write the gun control columns that bear both of their bylines due to other media commitments.
“Dr. Oz and I have been media partners for almost 20 years, including our best-selling YOU books. We started working on a daily “YouDocs” newspaper column in 2007. When Dr. Oz shifted his focus to launch his show in 2009, I took over the sole management of this daily column,” Roizen wrote in his letter to Fox News.
The Fox News report on the controversial Oz columns continues:
Roizen went on to state that there were “several columns” where he failed to clarify that the text reflected only his own opinion. Roizen’s letter did not specify which or how many columns were erroneously attributed to both doctors, but sought to “acknowledge periodic errors.”
“When controversial topics arose, we were supposed to debate options. If we disagreed on an editorial direction, I would specify that ‘Dr. Roizen’ felt a certain way. We have found several columns where this process was not followed, I write to ensure that our agreement is part of the public record and acknowledge periodic errors,” Roizen concluded.
Oz himself, according to a report in Jewish Insider, has also claimed that controversial columns like these and others pushing leftist environmentalist views on energy policy were written without his signoff. “It was an article written by a collaborator of mine that I did not see before he published it,” Oz said of an article pushing Democrat positions on green energy. “If I had said things on my show, then it would be a whole different ball game. When you’re running a media business, you delegate, you divide and conquer the challenges.”
But here is the problem for Oz—he cannot blame just the co-author of the column for the radical views he espoused on the Second Amendment in favor of gun control, because there are many other instances where Oz himself pushed gun control outside of the column. Perhaps most significantly, in 2018, Oz tweeted calling for a CDC study on “gun violence in this country” and said he thinks it is “time we view shootings as a public health problem.” The tweet remains public on his Twitter profile, from which he is now campaigning as a U.S. Senate candidate claiming to be a Republican–but from which just a couple of years ago he was pushing full-blown gun control:
Right now, the @CDCgov is NOT funded to study gun violence in this country. It’s time we treat shootings as a public health problem. Contact your congressperson today to demand they fund the #CDC to comprehensively study gun violence. #EndTheBan https://t.co/iFDGMG7fI5 pic.twitter.com/lZdMXW5zLC
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) March 14, 2018
This latest claim about his columns seems to have been invented by his U.S. Senate campaign when he needed an excuse to get out of the political liability of having written these intensely unpopular views—but when it was convenient to his public image as a celebrity doctor friendly with the American political left, Oz celebrated his column.
For instance, in a Thanksgiving piece for Time Magazine in 2013, Oz wrote that he constantly runs into people who thank him for writing his column—many of them by this point pushed these gun control ideas—and he said he was proud to put his name on them. “I get stopped by people who mention they learned something on my show or read my newspaper column and benefitted from it,” Oz wrote of his columns with Roizen.
What’s more, the next year in 2014 when testifying before the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee at a hearing on false and deceptive advertising of weight loss products, Oz touted the very columns he and Roizen advocated for gun control within. “I publish a magazine called Dr. Oz The Good Life with Hearst and I have a newspaper column which run in more than 110 newspapers across the country,” Oz told the U.S. Senate panel, per his opening statement published by the committee.
A 2010 New York Times profile from Frank Bruni also had Oz touting the columns he wrote with Roizen. “Oz is in magazines and newspapers. In February, he wrote what will be the first of six Prescription columns a year for Time magazine, which in 2008 included him in its annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people,” Bruni wrote. “In the fall he will start writing one column every other month for the AARP magazine. He reaches out to men with a monthly column for Esquire, to women with regular contributions to Winfrey’s magazine. All of this comes on top of the newspaper writing that he and Roizen, under the ‘You Docs’ banner, produce for King Features Syndicate. This includes a 250-word ‘daily tips’ column, a weekly 650-word question-and-answer column and a separate weekly 650-word feature on a given health topic.”
A 2008 piece by the Telegraph-Journal interviewed Oz about the process for writing the column with Roizen, and says the two had a conference call every Sunday to discuss the content of the columns. “We laugh so hard on those Sunday calls,” Oz said of his calls with Roizen to discuss column content. “My wife keeps thinking we’re not actually working.”
That’s not all: His own website’s biography, updated in 2020, specifically states Oz “authors a newspaper column syndicated by Hearst in 175 markets internationally.” That website biography does not even say Roizen is involved in the column.
Oz’s side is not the only one that touts Oz’s intricate involvement in these columns that pushed gun control—Roizen’s various biographies over the years have as well. In 2013 for instance, a biography of Roizen noted that he and Oz together “write a monthly column for ‘Success,’ a quarterly column for the nursing magazine ‘Every Woman’ and a daily newspaper column syndicated to more than 130 newspapers by King Syndication.” A 2020 event biography also specifically states that among other things Roizen is “writing a daily newspaper column with Dr. Oz.”
King Features Syndicate, the part of Hearst that syndicated Oz and Roizen’s joint column for years, as recently as November 2021—the month Oz announced his U.S. Senate campaign—advertised the column as co-written by both Oz and Roizen. The very next version of the column from King Features, in December 2021, has just Roizen on it—and that November version has been erased from the website of the syndicator but is still available to find in internet archives.
Part of why all of this is important is because Oz is claiming that he had nothing to do with the contents of the column for political reasons, but in other cases he made money off the contents of column. In fact, in 2015, Vox reported that Oz raked in a hefty sum of more than $1 million for promoting a hemorrhoid treatment in his columns.
In addition, Oz for years has aggressively fought back against false uses of his name to make money. In 2013, he launched “Oz Watch” for people to report uses of his name and likeness by bad actors to make money—and as recently as 2019 his efforts to fight fake endorsements using his likeness were profiled in news reports. But Oz never once, until he decided to run for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania and claim he is now a Republican and conservative, challenged the columns that bore his name in more than a hundred newspapers every day for over a decade.
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